Hiring a Grant Manager

Published on 5th December 2019

Hiring a Grant Manager / Consultant For Your Non-Profit. Your Non-profit organisation has just won a grant to execute a project. The wait is over, but you now need to implement the project, manage the grant effectively and report to the donor in
order to deliver a successful project!

An effective application of grant management knowledge can save your agency money, protect you from having to pay back some of the grant in disallowed costs, and improve in house expertise therefore increasing your likelihood of success on the next grant application.

This article will focus on:

A. 5 Key questions to ask a potential grant writer
B. 3 reasons why post-award management experience is critical
C. 4 top job skills you need "after" you have received your grant funding.

5 Key Questions to ask a grant writer (before hiring)

1) What is your grant writing success rate? The best way to determine a success rate is to divide the number of approved grants by the number of submissions.
2) What size (in value) grants have you written in the past.
3) What is your primary technical area of grant writing expertise?
4) What donor grants have you written in the past?
5) What experience do you have in grant management? What experience do you have in completing reports accurately and timely, ensuring regulatory compliance, and facilitating completions of activities outlined in the grant's activity timeline and evaluation plan?

3 Reasons Why Management Experience Is Critical to Grant Writers

Although not an exhaustive list by any means, here are 3 key reasons why you should enquire about post award grant management expertise from your grant writer

Reason 1

– It Saves Money Through More Accurate Budgeting – Practical hands on expertise can rarely be replaced by theory alone. An understanding of what fringe costs to add, co- financing principles and how to apply them to meet donor needs, overhead costing, administration recovery costing and its application are all benefits that you can reap by hiring someone with practical knowledge. An understanding of the pitfalls around disallowed costs, how to structure project files so that when being audited (up to 5 years down the line), files are accessible and the quality of data is still as effective as when they were first filed. These are just some of the factors that creates the edge with hiring a grant writer who has field management experience. Overall, this should save time and improve accuracy and overall quality of your

Reason 2 –

It reduces the likelihood of disallowed cost – One of the most devastating things for any organisation, INGO or not is having to repay funds for work that has already been completed. It is no doubt that an experience of managing grants and indeed working with a varied number of funders will give a grant writer an edge over someone that has not. For example, an understanding of a donors’ interest in time sheets, or timesheets from specific types of staff who are listed on the grant will be a life saver when it comes to an audit or expenditure verification exercise. The understanding of a need for cloud filing and rigorous voucher labelling system will categorically reduce the likelihood of disallowed costs when implementing EC funded grants. These are things that may not be immediately obvious to
someone who has technical skills alone and not some practical ones.

Reason 3

– It Improves Your overall Project Design – A key ‘win’ for any donor is an alignment of the budget to the log frame or project narrative. There are many budgets that look like a numbers on a spreadsheet which have no bearing to the project that is being implemented. An
example is a project budget being designed for a community project that is assessing gender norms and conducting community training to ultimately empower its female population and demystify existing norms.

Targets, statistics and interventions have been well articulated in the log frame and narrative but there is no mention in the budgets HR section of a ‘trainer’ or ‘female empowerment champion’, ‘Gender specialist’ or something that relates to all that is being promised. Sometimes, there may be no mention of training activities planned on the project! These very subtle interventions can be what separates a successful grant application from an unsuccessful one. Hiring a grant manager with a successful record or grant management will provide the edge on such an application.

4 Skills for Grant Management

According to the Grant Professionals Certification Institute, the 4 top grant management skills are:

1. Understanding the key elements of regulatory compliance
2. Know best practices and key functions of grant management, such as delegation, evaluation and reporting
3. Manage various project and management staff and a grant management team that also includes coordinating and communicating effectively with key stakeholders and other grant project affiliates; and
4. Establishing transitions to "post-award implementation that fulfill project applications
(e.g., document transfer, accuracy in post-award fiscal and activity reporting).


For most Non-profits, we recognize that this will take a considerable amount of time, practice and resource allocation to feel confident on all of the above. With practice, you will get there. However, if you would rather allocate resources efficiently as you start out, FINDEV Consulting Limited will walk alongside you with tailor made grant writing and post award management interventions to suit your needs while you focus on the more important business of social justice, development and so on.